Women we admire - What happens when 16 members of the t2 girl gang pick 20 women each of them admires? we salute 133 sheroes!

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 24.02.15


Magnificent Mary makes us believe that a girl can really have it all — a career, a passion, love, marriage, kids and the world at her feet. This little lady from Manipur is a giant-killer in the boxing ring with five world championships, an Olympic bronze and an Asian Games gold under her slim belt. Her gritty journey from a tiny rural dot in the Northeast of India to the heights of international glory fires us up to be the best we can be. And her determination to return to the ring after childbirth, twice, beats the “weaker sex” epithet to bloody pulp.  


A single mom struggling to make ends meet writes a book and changes the world. Yes, that’s the power of JKR. Though written for children, the Harry Potter series has touched the lives of people of all ages. We admire her not just because of the magic she spins in her tales but the odds she overcame to find success. And she chose to do it all over again when she started writing a detective series under a pseudonym. 


Of course, she’s stunning. But Angelina is also substance. She broke the mould by being a top career woman and mother of six at the same time, adopting her first child at 26. She’s had her share of ups (Academy Awards and Golden Globes) and downs (depression and preventive mastectomy) and stayed ‘Unbroken’ through it all. And to collate the humanitarian deeds of her ‘Mighty Heart’ in a sentence would be an injustice. She’s not a celebrity, she’s an icon. No wonder she’s got one of the most gorgeous men — Brad Pitt — standing by her side!


At 65, she continues to rule cinema, giving us women who are resourceful and resilient, strong of resolve and action. On screen, she has been fiery boss (The Devil Wears Prada), woman helplessly in love (The Bridges of Madison County), hard-nosed politician (The Iron Lady) and deranged matriarch (August: Osage County). Off camera, she is a devoted wife and mother, using the power of her name to champion many a charity cause. There will be more women like her, but Streep will remain special. Always.   


She was only 11 when she took a Taliban bullet to the head for having stood up for girls’ education. Now a schoolgirl in Birmingham, she continues to receive death threats but none of that deters her from speaking up for the right to education. Last year, at age 17, Malala became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. #Respect


Kahaani to The Dirty Picture — she’s the one who single-handedly put the Bolly woman where she belongs: on top. As an actress, Vidya continues to take on roles that explore the strength and substance of a woman. What we admire the most? Her refusal to bow to showbiz pressures, flaunting her curves and dressing the way she wants to. And did we mention how much we love that laugh?


There’s Beyonce, there’s Rihanna and there’s Lady Gaga. But it all started with that one lady who literally gave a damn. Her name? Madonna. It could be the style — remember her conical bras? Or it could be the sexuality — remember all that she has done on stage? She’s magical but she’s also the perfect mess. Yet almost everything the Material Girl did, we loved… and still do!


Veronica of Cocktail, Naina of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Leela of Ram-Leela, Meenamma of Chennai Express, Mohini of Happy New Year — she’s all this… and more. Deepika Padukone can be lovable child-woman one moment, spunky and sassy siren the next. The woman of many talents — she’s been a model and a state-level badminton player — is now Bolly’s heroine No. 1, lending a special something to every role she plays. But what really got her our vote was her quote of the year (2014): “Yes, I am a woman. I got breasts and a cleavage. You got a problem?” Attagirl! And yes, she gets extra points for coming to the t2 office and charming us all. 


Born into poverty, raped at nine and pregnant at 14 with a son who died shortly after, life started rough for Oprah. But the African-American rose to super success and crazy fame created out of a talk show that had above all other emotions... empathy. It was a rule-breaker, just like her, and genuine and generous, just like her again. We love how she embraces the bends in her personal journey with the same ease as she embraces her curves. Big, brassy, loud and yet soulful — that’s what makes her OMG-we-love-you Oprah.


She is a real woman, who embraces all her identities fearlessly. Her politics, her race, her Ivy League law degree, her concerns as a mother and wife (she doesn’t shy away from telling off BO whenever needed). Then, she is also one of our favourite fashionistas. There is not one part of being a woman that she apologises for — flowers to feminism, she stands by it all. 


When Adele crooned Never Mind I’ll Find Someone Like You it became the anthem for us, the broken-hearted sistahs, telling us that we weren’t alone. From winning a cool 10 Grammys to selling more than 40 million albums and 50 million singles worldwide, this mother-of-one has done it all. And she’s just 26! Plus, she became one of our fave Bond Girls after taking our breath away with the Skyfall OST.  


She won our hearts as the super-smart and witty Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films. She did the same after she shed Hermione’s skin to become a role model for young women across the globe, championing causes of gender equality and women’s empowerment. What makes her sooooo special? That ‘He for She’ speech as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador to redefine feminism, making it about equal rights for men and women, busting the myth of man-hating. And yes, she has a wicked, wicked sense of humour. 


She who made feminism the new F-word. She who uttered, “We are the women our parents warned us against”. She who posed as a Playboy Bunny, nailed abortion rights and kick-started liberating times for women. She who is tall and dainty, usually in black, chunky belts and bracelets, still gorgeous at 80. She who continues to talk, write and travel around the world empowering women with thoughts and freeing them from gender roles handed down through centuries. She who scores with her wit. She who is the feminist superstar. She who is Gloria Steinem. 


Put under house arrest by a military junta for a total of 15 years, away from her husband, sons and the people of Myanmar who pledged their support for her, this Gandhian did not waver from her path of non-violence. She could have left the country and got back her freedom but she did not abandon the people who had reposed their faith in her. For the past three decades, this 69-year-old slender woman has been a towering symbol of peace, sacrifice and hope. She gets our vote because of her courage, patience and indomitable spirit.


In the man’s world called Bollywood, she stands out as a woman telling her stories her way. Zoya Akhtar’s films may not have spelt big box office like those of cousin Farah Khan, but in terms of creating an impact, they have been second to none. While Luck By Chance gave us a rare peek into the world of Bolly business, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara took many of us on an epiphanic journey of self-discovery.  Much like her films, “live in the moment” is Zoya’s philosophy. At 42, she lives the life she wants: travelling the world when she’s not making her films. 


* Alice Munro * Amal Alamuddin * Anamika Khanna * Anjali Tendulkar * Anna Wintour * Anuradha Koirala * Aparna Jain * Aparna Sen * Arianna Huffington * Arundhati Bhattacharya * Arundhati Roy * Asha Bhosle * Audrey Tautou 
* Barkha Dutt * Beyonce * Caitlin Moran * Carol Gracias * Chanda Kochhar * Chanda Zaveri * Chhavi Rajawat * Chitrangda Singh Condoleezza Rice Damayanti Sen Dimple Kapadia Ekta Kapoor Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth Gilbert Ellen DeGeneres Emma Thompson Eve Ensler Fatima Bhutto Gauri Khan Gillian Anderson * Gillian Flynn Grace Slick Harper Lee Helen Mirren Irom Sharmila Jeeja Ghosh Jennifer Aniston
Jhulan Goswami Jillian Haslam Joan Baez Juhi Chawla Julia Roberts Kajol Kaley Cuoco Kareena Kapoor
V.K. Karthika Kate Middleton Kathryn Bigelow Kiran Bedi Kiran Mazumdar Shaw Kiran Rao Kiranjit Ahluwalia Konkona Sensharma Lady Gaga Lana del Rey